Army chief vs Government: Five new developments
Nitin Gokhale, Sudhi Ranjan Sen, Updated: January 30, 2012 12:12 IST
New Delhi: The Supreme Court is likely to hear the army chief's case against the government on February 4. General VK Singh has become the first serving Army chief to take the government to court - he wants the court to decide how old he is. Here are five big facts about the case:
1. What's the problem? General VK Singh says he was born on May 10, 1951; the government says it has to go by documents that list his date of birth as May 10, 1950. General Singh's records within the army show both dates. The General says he has tried several times to have the date corrected. But his requests were turned down. In December, the Defence Ministry ruled against him.
2. What's the big new development? Ahead of the Supreme Court hearing, the government has instructed the army to correct all its records to uniformly reflect 1950 as General Singh's year of birth. The army's official record-keeper is the Adjutant-General. The Ministry of Defence says that after General Singh's appeals were rejected, the army is obliged to amend its documents.
3. So far, the Adjutant-General has not implemented the government's order. Sources say that the administrators in this branch say records cannot be changed even by an executive order - and officials want to be sure that the government's instructions are legally valid. The Adjutant-General, sources say, may try to buy time till the Supreme Court hearing to gauge what judges make of the government's stand. So they may tell the Ministry of Defence that changing every single record for the army chief is a process that could take several days.
4. Is that a valid point? Yes, say experts, who point out that the government's instruction to the Army mean that all confidential records for General Singh, his pay book, driving license, passport and other documents will have to be amended.
5. Is this about his tenure? General Singh has said he wants to protect his honour and integrity - basically, have the government accept his claim, so it's clear that he did not try to misrepresent the facts. He also says that his battle is not about when he should retire. In his petition to the Supreme Court, he has said that he accepts that deciding his term is the sole prerogative of the government. But if the court were to accept 1951 as his date of birth, he would be eligible for another year as the head of the Army.
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The government has no authority to change anyone’s age– the court will decide that– the only authority it has is to ask the general to go on leave while the matter is being decided. However, there is something more to it: why is a government so keen to get rid of one of its cleanest generals? In the answer to this question lies the reason for the age row. It is ultimately unlikely to be about the general’s age. Someone up there in government is worried about what the general stands for.
The govt can ask Gen VK Singh to go, but it can’t change his age
Brigadier V Mahalingam (Retd)writes...
No one has so far clarified as to how the Chief going to the Court is not good for the Army. Are they suggesting that the bureaucracy would block all legitimate cases of procurement and modernization? If that be the case, so be it. Indian Army is not the Indian Army’s Army. It is India’s Army and it if for the people to decide what the country needs in terms of defence needs. The bureaucrats are no one to stand in-between the people and national interests. If the bureaucrats decide to field an ill- equipped Army against an adversary and if lives and territory are lost, those concerned will be made to pay a very heavy price by the people.
Comment: Is AG Branch the legal entity to change date of birth in the Passport, Driving License, Indentity card, PAN, Birth Register, Matric Certificate and other confidential documents of Gen VK Singh. MOD bureaucrats instead of rendering service to the citizens are wholly confused between Power and Authority. Power is to be used for elimination of social evils and corruption and Authority to be used for rendering service to citizens and Nation at large. Right now they are using both to mislead the Nation.
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